Book Review: The Auction Of Death

The Crusader’s Curse is the latest entry from Titan Books into their range known as The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Stuart Douglas, long-time Holmes pastiche contributor, penned this latest effort.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson are asked to attend the auction of an estate known as Thorpe Manor. There ate many secrets and legends swirling around the legacy of the Thorpe family. A cursed heirloom known as the De Trop Diamond has been missing for years. A ghost is said to be wandering the grounds. Not long after Holmes and Watson arrive and meet the various character there to make their bids, a murderer takes down one of the guests.

I enjoy reading these pastiche works featuring one of my favorite fictional sleuths, however I have often groused about the repetitive tendencies these authors tend to share. Once again, Holmes is having to find some cursed trinket and deal with some legendary curse. Once again, his adherence to the rational and scientific is challenged by some apparent supernatural entity lurking about the grounds of a sprawling manor. Douglas is another writer who seems to take elements that may have only appeared once or twice in the original Arthur Conan Doyle canon and somewhat inflate them. It gets a little irksome.

In spite of my little rant in the previous paragraph, I have to say this is still not a bad novel. Holmes and Watson seemed pretty close to how Doyle originally presented them. I do have an almost automatic affection for stories with claustrophobic settings where a small group of diverse characters have to contend with dark machinations of one of their member. Douglas does provide some effective red herrings in his plot and lets Holmes work for the solutions a bit. Although this novel does have some elements that triggers some mild exasperation when it comes to these pastiche efforts, Douglas is a talented enough writer to keep a curmudgeonly reader such as myself pretty well engaged.

A few years ago, I became aware of a rather interesting piece of World Ward II history through a Doctor Who audio play. A family member gave me a small small book concerning a squadron of Russian female fighter pilots known as the Night Witches. It is time for a departure from my usual reading preferences and see what Bruce Myles could tell us about this extraordinary group of women in “Night Witches”.

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